A year ago, my life was completely different…I used to lead people around the coral reefs in what used to be my job in the Caribbean coasts of Mexico. Yes, you guessed right, I was a snorkel tour guide, funny isn’t?
But first, hello everyone! my name is Gustavo, I’m a Mexican marine biologist that recently (couple of months ago) became an active part of the PROTECTED project and started the PhD based in the University of Liege in Belgium, under the supervision of Dr. Marc Muller at the Laboratory for Organogenesis and Regeneration.
Unfortunately for me, my dear colleague Maria Christou already explained in a previous blog the many wonders that you can find in the magnificent Belgium and more specifically in my beloved town Liège, thus, if you have some time to kill, because, let’s be honest, you won’t do that homework, you won’t read that paper, at least not now, then, I kindly invite you to spend some time with me, I promise it won’t take long anyways.
The PROTECTED-ITN has given me the opportunity to travel, to meet new people, work under different research environments, allowing me to learn and see the world from a wider perspective, and so far it’s been a great time making discoveries that will eventually help me to tackle down my research questions using a different mind set.
Of course, all of this comes with a great responsibility. I wish I could tell you that I work hard, but according to my ancestors: -“working is boring”, and trust me, what I do is NOT BORING AT ALL. To keep it as simple as possible, alongside with Maria, we are trying to characterise several responses displayed by the zebra-fish individuals that have undergone exposure to different endocrine disrupter compounds. More specifically, I’m dealing with the responses at an early stage of development, working specifically in zebra-fish larvae.
I’m at the moment finishing a secondment in Queen’s University Belfast, under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Connolly. This is my first time in Northern Ireland and working with cells. By the way, no matter how good you think you are at biochemistry, genetics or whatever field within the biology realm, each one of them are challenging in their own unique way.
Without previous knowledge and no experience in cell culture techniques/assays I embarked on a journey of discovery that to my surprise it would end rapid. I must admit that a month was not enough to set up, optimize and get reliable results, but as my dad used to say: -“sometimes you don’t have time to rehearse, show must go on, so buckle up and do it”. Certainly, the time spent in Belfast taught me crucial things.
“All work and no fun makes Gus a dull boy”. I have spent my few weekends travelling around and discovering the marvels of Northern Ireland, like the Giant’s Causeway located in County Antrim. I was totally amazed by it and got me thinking about how many other things are out there that are as impressive as this geological formation. It is poetic and a perfect example of how after chaos there’s place for harmony and beauty. That day was quite an adventure, considering the fact that due to weather conditions I got caught in the middle of a storm and I had to find shelter under a huge rock, luckily the storm passed away rapidly.
Finally, I would like to thank all the people in Dr. Connolly’s lab, I did enjoy my time training and learning from them. Fun fact, I came to Belfast thinking that I knew how to speak English, people here proved me wrong. At the beginning I had some “lost in translation” problems but after a couple of days I was managing. Full immersion is essential if you want to take the most out of every situation, thus an open mind and a humble heart will always help.
There are many many things to share and this might take a couple of more posts. So, stay tune for the next edition.
À la prochaine!
Gus (or as Solomon used to call me: Dr. Froggy)